Why travel just to get drunk?

I don’t get it. Call me old. Call me snobby. Call me dull. I just cannot understand the mentality that drives so-called travellers to spend a hell of a lot of money and time drinking themselves into oblivion in different places around the world.

I’m not talking about the kind of drinking done in local watering holes among local people – downing shots of vodka followed by bites of gherkin with Russians on the Trans-Siberian, £20 shots of aquavit in Norway’s exclusive bars, or fending off frostbite in a freezing Mongolian ger with rancid airag (fermented mare’s milk).

My incomprehension is caused by those travellers who reach the far-flung corners of the earth only to seek out the bars and pubs as much like home as possible, in order to imbibe a large quantity of imported beers and meet fellow backpackers just like themselves. Then, too hung over to actually go out and do any sightseeing or activities the next day, they stay in their bunk beds groaning all day, but by evening are ready to go out and do it all over again. Whatever happened to trying to break out of your comfort zone?

There’s a bar in La Paz whose flyer proudly proclaims that Lonely Planet has labelled them “the worst cultural experience” in the city. Their response? “If you want culture visit a museum.” They advertise “bangers & mash, curries, pies, full breakfasts, fish & chips, PG Tips, Tetleys & Barry’s tea (thanks to Oli’s mum sending them)”. The bar is called Olivers Travels, and it’s open from 8am to “when we get bored”. I’m ashamed to admit that the hostel I’ve been staying at in La Paz makes its guests wear a wristband that  displays the hostel address followed by “If you find me lost or drunk, please return me to the address above.” How humiliating! These sort of places make my blood run cold.

Equally disconcerting to me are those travellers who drink for the sake of being drunk. Take the five-strong group of Australian, Kiwi and Irish lads I met on the bus from Uyuni to Potosi. They had a policy of drinking a bottle of wine each on every bus journey. That’s in addition to the alcohol drunk before actually boarding the bus. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I just don’t get it! Aside from irritating the other passengers with their loud chatter late into the night, how do they cope when the seal is broken and they need to wee?

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